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The best OnePlus Nord 2 alternatives: Other great budget phones to consider

These phones take the fight to the Nord 2.
By
March 12, 2022
OnePlus Nord 2 top down view outside with foliage
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The OnePlus Nord 2 arrived as a follow-up to the well-rounded original Nord model. That was the first mid-range OnePlus phone in years, and the firm has since embraced budget devices in a massive way.

OnePlus has done a solid job of picking up where the original left off. But what if you want something a little different? The OnePlus Nord might not fully convince you. Luckily, there are plenty of Nord 2 alternatives on the table. Let’s take a look at our favorite ones.

Read first: OnePlus Nord 2 review

OnePlus Nord 2

The best OnePlus Nord 2 alternatives

1. OnePlus Nord CE 2

OnePlus Nord CE 2 showing back in hand
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

If you’re looking for an even more affordable OnePlus Nord 2 alternative, the same company released the OnePlus Nord CE 2. It takes a slight price cut and gets a less powerful Dimensity 900, instead of the Dimensity 1200. Otherwise, the phone is actually very similar.

More: OnePlus Nord CE 2 review

RAM is great at 6/8GB. Other specs include a 6.43-inch AMOLED screen with a 90Hz refresh rate. You also get the same 4,500mAh battery. Luckily, the triple-camera system has been slightly upgraded with a 64MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultrawide camera, and a 2MP macro shooter. It also keeps 5G support, which is nice to have on a budget device.

Now, if you want to save money, go with the OnePlus Nord N200. It’s super affordable, and you still get the OnePlus experience.

OnePlus Nord CE 2

2. Poco F3 GT

Poco F3 GT back of the phone lead image
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

The Poco F3 GT launched in India just a day after the Nord 2, bringing a gaming focus to the table. It offers the same Dimensity 1200 SoC as the OnePlus device, but its standout feature is a pair of retractable shoulder buttons for gaming.

Poco’s phone also offers a 6.67-inch 120Hz OLED screen and a 5,065mAh battery, resulting in a higher refresh rate and a larger battery than the Nord 2. Other notable features include an IP53 rating, 67W charging, and a triple rear camera system (64MP + 8MP + 2MP).

Here: Our Poco F3 GT review

In other words, you might want to consider this device over the Nord 2 if you spend plenty of time gaming on your phone or just want a bigger battery.

The only downside is this phone was released with the Indian market in mind. For those outside of India, we recommend you check out the standard Poco F3, packing a Snapdragon 870 chipset, a 120Hz OLED screen, and a €349 (~$412) price tag. The biggest issue with this device is that the Android skin was buggy at launch, so you might want to wait for more OTA updates before jumping in.


3. Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G angled up against flower pot
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority

Samsung’s Galaxy A series continues to deliver some good mid-range wares, and the Galaxy A52s 5G is right up there as one of the better entries. The 5G-powered mid-ranger sacrifices some horsepower compared to even the original Nord, but you’re still getting a decent Snapdragon 778G chipset.

The rest of the spec sheet compares pretty favorably to the Nord 2 for the most part. We’ve got a 120Hz Super AMOLED screen (higher than the Nord 2’s 90Hz), a 4,500mAh battery, and a pretty solid quad-camera system. The standout feature is IP67 water/dust resistance, which the OnePlus device lacks.

Our thoughts: Samsung Galaxy A52s review

Perhaps the biggest downer for the A52s 5G is the 25W charging speed, paling in comparison to the Nord 2’s 65W charging. There’s a lot to like here, and three years of Android OS updates is the cherry on top of a tasty cake.

Samsung Galaxy A52s 5G (International Version)

4. Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G

Xiaomi 11T Lite 5G NE
Xiaomi

The Mi 11 Lite is the cheapest of the core Mi 11 series actually available in 4G and 5G flavors, but the latter is definitely the better OnePlus Nord 2 alternative on paper. Aside from 5G connectivity, the Mi 11 Lite 5G also offers a Snapdragon 780G processor, a major upgrade over last year’s Snapdragon 765G mid-range 5G silicon.

Related: The best 5G phones you can buy right now

Otherwise, the 4G and 5G models share several features: a 4,250mAh battery with 33W charging, a 6.55-inch 90Hz OLED panel, and the same triple rear camera system. The latter consists of a 64MP main shooter, 8MP ultrawide camera, and 5MP telemacro lens. The two variants have different selfie cameras (20MP for 5G and 16MP for 4G) but share an IP53 rating.

Xiaomi has positioned this device as a design-focused phone, coming in at 6.8mm thin and weighing just under 160 grams. So if you value aesthetics and ergonomics, this might be the device for you.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Lite 5G (GSM Only)

5. Apple iPhone SE 2022

Like the idea of a cheaper yet capable device and don’t mind venturing outside Android? That’s where the iPhone SE comes in, retailing for $429 in the US.

Apple’s device essentially has the same design as the iPhone 8, as well as the 2020 iPhone SE, so those expecting thin bezels and something fresh might be disappointed. Otherwise, you’re getting a powerful A15 Bionic processor, IP67 water/dust resistance, and wireless charging. The addition of a fingerprint scanner is also welcome to many of us who aren’t fans of Face ID.

Buyer’s guide: Which iPhone is right for you?

The iPhone SE lacks several features compared to the Nord 2, though, such as an AMOLED screen, high refresh rate, fast charging, an ultrawide secondary rear camera. You’re also sacrificing battery life if you go with the Apple device. Nevertheless, you gain complete access to Apple’s ecosystem by opting for this phone.

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

6. Google Pixel 5a 5G

the google pixel 5a on a bench with water splashed droplets
Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Nord series only gets the standard two years of OS updates and three years of security patches. What if you want longer-term support? The Google Pixel 5a 5G is part of the Pixel series, so you’ll be among the first to get all updates. Additionally, Google delivers three years of OS updates and four years of security patches. You’re also getting a clean version of Android.

We weren’t huge fans of the Pixel 5 series, as it seemed more like a budget phone, while not precisely priced as one. The Pixel 5a comes with a nice price tag attached to it, though, making it a better OnePlus Nord 2 alternative.

Also: Google Pixel 5a review

The Pixel 5a 5G comes with a Snapdragon 765G processor and 6GB of RAM. The OLED screen is slightly smaller at 6.34 inches. The battery is a bit larger too, though, featuring 4,680mAh. The Google Pixel 5a 5G has a single 12.2MP camera, but Pixel phones are known for impressive computational photography enhancements.

Google Pixel 5a

7. Moto G Stylus 2022

Motorola Moto G Stylus 2022 Pink Clay Official
Motorola

The Moto G Stylus 2022 is an excellent OnePlus Nord 2 alternative for those who want to save even more cash. It’s not quite up there in terms of performance and design, but it’s still a great, newer proposition from Motorola.

The screen is larger at 6.8 inches, and it still has a 90Hz refresh rate and Full HD+ resolution. You’ll also get 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. It also keeps a very similar camera system to the Nord 2’s, featuring 50MP, 8MP, and 2MP shooters. The Moto G Stylus comes with a stylus and a large 5,000mAh battery as added bonuses.

Motorola Moto G Stylus (2022)

8. OnePlus 9

OnePlus Nord 2 5G vs OnePlus 9
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

If you like OnePlus but aren’t satisfied with the OnePlus Nord 2, maybe you need an upgrade to the company’s flagship series. The OnePlus 9 is one of the best Nord 2 alternatives. Those with some cash to spare get quite a few more features in exchange.

The OnePlus 9 comes with a flagship Snapdragon 888 processor, a higher refresh rate, and wireless charging (at least outside India). Interestingly enough, the phone also comes with an IP68 rating if you buy it via T-Mobile. Unfortunately, unlocked devices don’t have this rating, but it’s presumably still got ingress protection of some kind.

Read more: OnePlus 9 review

OnePlus’s vanilla flagship also stands out thanks to its Hasselblad-branded camera system. You’re getting a 48MP primary camera (IMX689), a 50MP ultrawide snapper (IMX766), and a 2MP monochrome lens.

If you’re in China, you might also want to look at the OnePlus 10 Pro, which is the latest and greatest from the company.


All of these OnePlus Nord 2 alternatives are great! We know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, though. You should look at our other guides if you weren’t quite convinced by any of these phones. We have lists for the best Android phones, best budget devices, and best budget camera phones.